Outdoor Research’s Alti II Gore-Tex Mittens are seriously warm double-layer mittens designed for extremely cold weather, well below 0 degrees (F). They have a waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex outer shell with a soft leather palm, polyester fleece lining, long wrist cuffs, an idiot cord, and a carabiner loop so you can clip them to a harness. A modular liner mitten insulated with Primaloft Gold insulation is also included. If you plan on climbing a high peak in Nepal, you work in winter as a school crossing guard, or you suffer from extremely cold hands due to Raynauds, these mittens are for you.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: Men’s; a separate Women’s model is available
- Type: Modular insulated glove system
- Waterproof/Breathable: 2L Gore-Tex
- Seam-Taped: Yes
- Stitching: Kevlar thread for durability
- Outer Mitten: 70D Nylon with leather palm
- Inner Mitten: Ripstop nylon with Primaloft Gold Insulation and fleece lining
- Sizing: Runs a half-size to a full-size small
These OR Alti II Gore-Tex Mittens are the warmest mittens that Outdoor Research makes. They’re modular mittens with a waterproof/breathable outer mitten shell and an inner Primaloft insulated mitten liner. The outer mitten is insulated with polyester and can be worn by itself to keep your hands warm, augmented with the included liner glove, or used with a glove liner of your choosing.
A size large of the outer shell mitten is 13″ long, so it covers your wrists when worn. It has long wrist gauntlets, which can be cinched closed over the ends of a winter shell jacket with an elastic cord to block out drafts or prevent snow from getting inside. Wrist gauntlets are a must-have feature on mittens or gloves intended for very cold weather because your bloodstream flows close to the skin at your wrists and keeping that area warm will keep your hands much warmer.
The outer mitten also comes with idiot cords, also called leashes, which you wrap around your forearm so you can remove the outer mitten and prevent it from blowing into the next county if you drop it or accidentally let go. This is the type of mitten system that one would wear on a very cold and windy mountain summit, so having these extra safety cords is a valuable feature. If you rather not use them, the cords are girth-hitched to a fabric loop inside the mitten shells making them removable.
The exterior of the outer shell mitts has a soft leather palm, thumb, and fingertips for enhanced grip with a slight curve to help grip trekking pole/ski pole handles. There’s also a red gear loop on the back of the fingers that you can clip to a harness. But don’t get too excited about the dexterity of these gloves, because they’re not intended for fine tool use. They have one purpose and that is to keep your hands warm in terrible cold.
The interior liner mitten is insulated with Primaloft Gold on the back and lined with fleece. OR has been making these red liner gloves for over 15 years and I have several other pairs of OR modular gloves and mitts that came with them. The mittens also have long wrists to trap heat and velcro strips that marry to their opposites inside the Alti II outer shell mittens, so they’ll stay put when you wear the two mittens together.
The liners are not intended for use without the outer shell mitten, and while they do have a ripstop nylon exterior, they’re not weatherproofed at all. The fingertips and thumb are covered with a siliconized imprint, but they’re not touchscreen compatible. That siliconized imprint prevents them from slipping inside the outer shell mitten when the two are worn together.
These Outdoor Research Alti II Gore-Tex Mittens are too warm to hike in unless you’re on the dark side of the moon or someplace equally cold. The mittens are oversized and they can be difficult to use with trekking poles or ski poles if you rely on using webbing straps for your grip. As far as dexterity goes, there is none. However, if you have Raynaud’s Disease, and your hands get very cold in winter, these Alti II’s are warm enough that you can probably wear them without needing hand warmers! That’s pretty impressive.
That said, it’s very tempting to buy a pair of heavy-duty mittens like these if you’re gearing up for winter hiking and backpacking in the lower 48. If you want mittens you can hike in without drowning in perspiration, I’d encourage you to get a pair that isn’t as warm or as expensive. I bought modular mittens and gloves like the Outdoor Research Alti II Mitts reviewed here when I was first gearing up for winter hiking and backpacking 15 years ago, but I rarely use them.
While a case can be made for owning a pair of the Alti II’s if you’re slated for a high-altitude winter expedition, I’d encourage you to look at mittens that will keep you warm down to zero (F), like the REI Gauntlet GTX 2.0 Mittens I reviewed recently, You’ll use them much more frequently and get a lot more value from them.
Disclosure: Outdoor Research donated these mittens for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
I went with the OR Mt. Bakers, which are nearly identical but have the goretex outer shell mitt but instead a red 5-finger glove on the inside. Perhaps less insulation? I’ve been extremely happy with them, but indeed have only needed that full compliment on relatively few occasions where it is bitter cold and windy; above treeline situations. I probably get the most use at lower elevations by removing the liner glove and putting either my bare hand or a thin-liner-gloved-hand into the shell only. It makes for a durable and waterproof shell, great for steep sections where you know your hand is going into the snow over and over. However, as my highest level glove/mitt they spend most of the time in the pack waiting for the right occasion. When that occasion arrives, I’m super thankful to have them.
We used these during a summit attempt on Rainier on June 5, 2022. They weren’t brought out until above 10k’ because they will get very warm which is a plus when very cold. The same can be said for the parkas we had, not useful unless mountaineering, which is the intent of this type of gear. Not meant for hikers.
See, I love a good pair of mittens. I actually did not know that Gore-Tex mittens existed up until this article which is pretty good knowledge to have hahah. I would buy them myself if they weren’t so expensive. I think they would be good for a good cross-country skiing trip or snowboarding so I might consider buying them in the future if it seems like the time.
Really…didn’t know people make GTX mittens…Have you been living underground? :-)
These types of mitts are mostly for arctic or mountaineering. Even for these uses, I vastly prefer a layering system. My complete setup is: 1. Fleece glove like the Montbell Clemece for general purpose. 2. A Showa glove if it’s rainy, colder, or I’m paddling. 3. If well below freezing I add an oversized down mitt like OR Transcendent on top of the fleece. 4. If I expect to scramble on mountain rocks in well below-freezing temperatures, or there’s a winter storm, I’ll add an over-mitt liner like the Montbell. Finally, in the coldest temps, I’ll add a merino wool liner mitt under the OR Mitt. That covers 100% of the conditions I’ve ever encountered.